61 items found
- All About the COVID-19 Vaccine
The first COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to frontline healthcare workers across the country. The two different versions of the vaccine manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer provide much needed good news. Here’s everything you need to know about the vaccine to stay informed. The Forefront of Vaccination Moderna (short for modified RNA) is a biotech company out of Massachusetts that has built its platform around the development of mRNA, or messenger RNA. For years, Moderna has conducted clinical trials on over 1,000 subjects against five different respiratory viruses using the mRNA technology. Moderna used their varied expertise to begin work on a COVID-19 vaccine in January and began studies as early as this past summer. The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, was 94% effective in clinical trials and can be given to people ages 18 and over in two 100-microgram doses given 28 days apart. The German biotech company Pfizer has also developed a COVID-19 vaccine named BNT162b2, with a clinical trial efficacy of 95%. Like the Moderna vaccine, it was also created with mRNA technology. However, BNT162b2 can be administered to those over the age of 16 in two 30-microgram doses given 21 days apart. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been given emergency authorization by the FDA. However, emergency authorization is not the same as approval- this process allows the experimental vaccine to be used as long as the FDA deems the positive outcome from the vaccine outweighs the risk. Both vaccines also must be transported and stored in cold conditions: the Pfizer vaccine must use dry ice to create an ultra-cold environment, but the Moderna vaccine can be stored in a temperature similar to a household refrigerator. mRNA Facts MRNA stands for “Messenger RNA”, a technology that contains the recipe for cells to build amino acids that mimic viruses found in the body. The COVID-19 vaccine contains these proteins and once injected, human cells receive mRNA from the vaccine and make proteins which trigger an immune response to create antibodies. Then, if a person gets infected with COVID-19, these antibodies will recognize the protein in the virus, helping the immune system detect and destroy it. COVID-19 Vaccine Information The Pfizer vaccine is fairly effective in preventing symptomatic illness, but it is still unclear whether or not it prevents people from carrying COVID-19. The good news is that the vaccine should prevent symptoms serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, but those vaccinated could still become asymptomatic carriers of the virus, spreading it without showing signs of illness. Wearing a mask, proper hygiene, and social distancing are still suggested even as the vaccine becomes more readily distributed. Although the vaccine will halt symptoms, anybody could still carry the virus in their nasal passageway and spread it through coughing, talking, or sneezing. An estimated 70%, or 230 million, Americans must be vaccinated in order for herd immunity — once enough people have been vaccinated for the virus to stop its spread — to take place. The timeline for this is unknown, since both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines take time to manufacture and distribute and also require two doses to be effective. Final Things to Note After frontline healthcare workers have received the vaccine, the vaccination timeline for the general public will vary by state. Both the Pfizer and Modern vaccines are delivered through a shot in the arm and can create common vaccine symptoms such as headaches, body aches, and chills. The FDA has stated that in clinical trials “the frequency of non-fatal serious adverse events was low and without meaningful imbalances" between the vaccinated group and the group that received the placebo. Remember to mask up and stay safe.
- The Secret to Donating Millions of Masks During a Pandemic (And How You Can Help)
Despite modern-day personal protective equipment (PPE) being produced and distributed in mass quantities for decades, COVID-19 created an unforeseen shortage that impacted communities everywhere—why? Simply put, existing PPE supply chains weren’t structured to provide products like general use masks and N95 respirators quickly and much of the pricing didn’t take into consideration the marginalized communities that would desperately need them. FLTR Inc. was born out of necessity—to provide PPE to everyone at scale. It was clear that access to masks would be problematic during the pandemic, so we asked ourselves, “How can we save as many lives as possible?” To start, we reinvented the supply chain for aggressive efficiency and FLTR quickly became one of the largest global distributors of PPE in a matter of months. Being efficient doesn’t mean cutting corners either—FLTR was founded on the principle that our products must adhere to the highest safety standards. Lastly, we recognized that we couldn’t do it alone. FLTR partnered with generous donors and caring organizations to ensure our efforts would be achievable. This winning combination of quickly distributing products effective against COVID-19 empowered FLTR to not only supply PPE to healthcare workers and the general public, but to give marginalized communities a helping hand as well. Supporting At-Risk Communities and Organizations Throughout COVID-19, children, tribal communities, refugees, migrants, and many more have struggled to get masks that are effective and affordable. “Our farm workers, they cannot afford to buy masks that [are] five dollars,” stated Executive Director of the Community Health World Coalition for Migrants and Refugees (CHWCMR), Ileana Ponce. In addition to being too expensive, Ponce found that most of the masks available were poor quality and didn’t seal well around children’s faces. As a proud partner of the Millions of Masks for Children initiative, FLTR has donated 2.4 million masks and 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer to date, which are currently being distributed to organizations including CHWCMR. In Edmonds, W.A., on a chilly Tuesday, Ponce and her team eagerly awaited their delivery of 54 thousand masks. She underlined the importance of FLTR’s donation stating, “Masks are saving lives in our community.” More About the Millions of Masks for Children Initiative It truly takes a village to get millions of masks to those in need and it wouldn’t be possible without the initiative’s cofounders Trang Le and Shachar Zahavi, its partner organizations, and our compassionate donors. It’s clear that many at-risk groups will need more support and FLTR is prepared to donate the next million masks—but we need your help. If you or anyone you know may be interested in joining our list of distinguished donors, please contact us using the form here. We urgently need your support to keep these communities safe. As the pilot in Washington has been a resounding success, FLTR will continue its commitment to provide masks for the national rollout. During an unprecedented time where PPE supplies seem sparse, FLTR has emerged a leader by not only providing PPE to general consumers and healthcare workers, but to numerous marginalized communities for the foreseeable future. We appreciate your partnership in making this happen. Millions of Masks for Children in the News KOMO Newscast | Millions of Masks for Children Initiative with FLTR, SEKO, DHL, and SMARTAID KING 5 Newscast | Millions of Masks for Children Initiative with FLTR, SEKO, DHL, and SMARTAID AP, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, MarketWatch, Chinook Observer, PR Newswire
- Your Cloth Mask Is Not Giving You As Much Protection As You Think
The spread of COVID-19 has necessitated face masks as an everyday part of American life. In August, Etsy creators alone sold $356 million worth of homemade face masks. Whether we like it or not, face masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future and cloth masks are some of the easiest and cheapest to buy and make. However, nearly all cloth masks might not be protecting you as much as they should. All About Cloth Masks Cloth masks can be made with up to three layers and (preferably) with water-resistant, tightly woven fabric. Some even include pouches to hold reusable filters. These masks are easy to find and—according to the CDC—they also may provide some protection if designed and used properly. But is it enough protection? Cloth masks are not as effective as N95 masks, which filter 95% of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns. (For reference, a Coronavirus particle ranges from 0.5-0.2 microns, but is mostly spread through larger aerosolized droplets from an infected person.) A 2015 CDC study in Vietnam showed that rates of infection were significantly higher in those who wore cloth masks compared to a group that wore surgical masks. The study used locally manufactured double-layered cotton masks over a 4-week period. Participants were given 5 masks and were instructed to wash them daily with soap and water. The CDC concluded that—although the results could have been from improperly washing the masks or not washing them at all—the rates of infection were still higher than those in the control group and the group with surgical masks. There are also other things to consider when using a cloth mask. The CDC reviewed 19 different studies on the effectiveness of filtration in cloth masks and found that the filtration is typically lower in cloth masks than in surgical masks. Rachael Jones, an associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, says that leakage in air flow in cloth masks is also a problem. She states that if viral particles are already floating around, they could be small enough to fit right through a cloth mask. Wearing a Mask is Only One Piece of the Puzzle Ultimately, social protocols put into place and face mask use are guidelines that work together. Personal benefits from mask wearing are increased when the community adheres to guidelines such as social distancing and proper hygiene. And cloth masks are soon getting new guidelines as ASTM International—an organization that develops and enforces technical standards—has partnered with industry and government organizations to create guidelines for the filtration efficacy of face masks, including those made of cloth and fabric. These regulations will be applied to private sellers of face masks and will include a label that certifies they’ve met the guidelines. This will no doubt help consumers decide which face masks are suitable for them and also ease anxiety that comes with mask wearing, especially in densely populated places. Because of mask shortages earlier this year, the CDC began recommending cloth masks for public use until the manufacture of surgical and N95 masks became more optimized and more available to the public. For the time being, the CDC recommends wearing cloth masks that have at least two layers and are washable—and keeping up with washing it daily or after being in high-exposure environments. Until safety standards for cloth masks are established and reinforced by the CDC, general use masks that meet ASTM standards and NIOSH-approved N95 respirators should be used for the highest protection from COVID-19.